Christmas is on the way, there’s no doubt about that! If you, like many people in the UK, worry about money, there are several ways of avoiding debt during the festive period if you think and spend a bit smarter.
All it takes is a bit of forethought and tactical shopping, both in the run-up to the big day and shortly after, so read on to find out how to enjoy Yuletide without putting a huge dent in next year’s finances.
Start thinking about presents now
The average household spends around £500 to £600 on Christmas and there’s no way this can come out of the average December salary. If you find you’re looking at a hefty credit card scenario every January, then start buying a few presents in October and November. It spreads the cost out and you feel more in control; at the very least, if you’re not feeling Christmassy just yet, then save £100 a month so you’re not so reliant on credit in December.
Start some new traditions
Instead of buying presents for absolutely everyone in your office, why not start off a Secret Santa club? This means each person only has to buy one present, saving a lot of time and money. Within your extended family, you could start a tradition of exchanging IOUs for, say babysitting services, baking cakes or car washes.
Use your loyalty cards with each shop
Hopefully you’ve already got a decent points balance on your main loyalty cards, but even if it’s quite small, it can only grow. If you get just two or three smaller gifts with each card, then it’s something that doesn’t end up slapped on your overdraft or credit card to earn interest. Then, once Christmas is over, you can start it all over again for next year!
Spend some time looking for BOGOF and three-fer offers
This is where the forward planning comes in. Head into the larger department and chain stores and pick up their Christmas catalogues and look at all their promotions. You can plan your actual attack on the shops then. Knowing in advance what you’re getting and for whom makes you much less prone to random impulse purchases that just waste money. It’s even better when you’re getting some freebies thrown in as well!
Harness your creativity
If you’re a crafty sort, then you could make presents for some friends and family. You could make your own soaps, for example, and personalise them for the recipients. If you’re great with a needle and thread, then you could make a few of these really easy Japanese knot bags, or just make up some fancy cranberry sauce to give to the neighbours.
Book your travel as far in advance as you can
If you make a regular Christmas or new year trip to relatives or friends and you always get stung for the train fare, then by buying advanced tickets you could save at least a third. Taking along a picnic for the journey will also prevent you from paying over the odds for snacks and watery coffee.